Mitt Romney said he is “likely” to vote for witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, signaling that Republicans may not be unified in their defense of the president.
Led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans in the Senate have mostly stuck together in voting down attempts from Democrats to include witnesses in the trial. A final vote is expected to come after both sides have presented their cases, and the Utah senator indicated that he could be willing to allow witnesses.
As NBC News reported, Romney told reporters that he is “very likely” to vote for witnesses, but has not yet made a final decision and won’t until after closing arguments. Because Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the Senate, there would need to be four defections to ensure that witnesses could be called in the trial. House impeachment managers have tried to make the case that the top White House officials withheld by Trump could provide firsthand evidence of his improper efforts to push Ukraine into investigating his political rival, Joe Biden.
As the report added, there are some Republicans vulnerable to lose their seats this year who could end up voting with Democrats to allow these witnesses.
“Other Republican targets for Democrats hopeful of hearing additional testimony include Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, among others,” the report noted.
Democrats have continued to make the case to the American public, with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying on Saturday that Trump’s legal team has actually made the case for witnesses through its arguments. Trump’s team had argued that Democrats were not able to call any eyewitnesses to Trump’s actions. Throughout the House investigation, the White House denied subpoenas for top officials and documents.
Schumer said it is now clear that this information needs to come out.
“The president’s counsel did something that they did not intend: They made a really compelling case for why the Senate should call witnesses and documents,” Schumer told reporters, via The Hill. “Today, we thank the president’s counsel for one thing. They made our case even stronger.”
Republicans have also floated the idea of calling Joe Biden or his son, Hunter, as witnesses, believing they will uncover the corruption Trump claimed took place in Ukraine. Fact checkers have said there is no evidence to support the idea that either of the Bidens were involved in corruption.
The Senate is expected to vote next week on whether more witnesses will be called. It is not clear yet if there is any support among Republicans beyond Romney.